Single Parent Travel Tips

Single Parent Travel Tips

Traveling with kids can take some planning and more so for the single parent, especially during these constantly changing times. With no one to share the load, single parent travel may cause some trepidation. Although most of our family travel was enjoyed together (myself, my husband and our two sons), there were plenty of times, due to work schedules, I ventured abroad alone with my two boys. When my older son went off to college, my younger son even tagged along on some “blended” business/leisure (bleisure!) trips to London and Spain.

There is no reason for any parent to feel overwhelmed – some simple advance planning can help eliminate unnecessary stress and lead to a very memorable vacation whether you are traveling stateside or out of the country:

Use a Travel Agent:
That’s me! A travel expert will help you to put all the pieces together in advance and forecast the pitfalls, so you are not caught off guard. Of course, there are always unforeseen events that happen during travel (weather, flight delays, illness), but why not try to control the things you can control?

Survey your documents:
Besides checking passports for ample expiration dates, check if you need travel consent from a co-guardian. These are all things that should be worked out well in advance of your trip. If you’re traveling to Canada, for example, you must have your child’s passport, birth certificate, and a letter of authorization from any co-parents. Your vacation plans may abruptly end at the airline check in desk if documents are not in order.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

Testing and vaccine requirements:
Vaccination status and negative COVID testing will be the key to entry to many countries, cities, tourist sites, and restaurants. In pre-COVID times, vaccine requirements have always been on the books for many destinations, for example Yellow Fever vaccinations. As a Travel Agent, I provide clients with resources to verify requirements for vaccination, testing, and health declarations.

Purchase travel insurance:
“Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” and that includes trip delays, cancellation, or illness before or during traveling which can be covered by travel insurance. My kids have visited doctors (for thankfully mostly minor issues) in many corners of the world, including a trip to the ER in Australia for some stitches, so having travel insurance is definitely a necessity. Now, many countries require travelers to purchase specific policies in advance of travel that cover COVID related issues.

Include the kids:
Everyone has an opinion, even the little ones. The more invested they are in the trip, the less likely they will complain. Help kids prepare for travel by engaging them in a little research. Planning a beach vacation with snorkeling? Purchase a waterproof Fish Identification Card to study local sea life prior to the excursion. Heading on a hike? Download a trail map to pick out trails that match your family’s experience level. Sightseeing? I always scoped out museum websites in advance to seek out exhibits that would appeal to my boys. They loved archaeology and Egyptology, so when visiting London’s British Museum, we went straight to the Rosetta Stone to catch a glimpse before the crowds converged.

Consider dietary needs:
Are the kids on special diets, are there allergies to consider? Check out menus and make reservations in advance – OpenTable is a great resource. Including healthy eating habits while traveling is something that can easily be embraced. Read my article on how to Eat Healthy on Vacation for plenty of tips.

Move more:
My recent article on how to Stay in Shape on Vacation includes suggestions on how to keep kids active. Walks, hikes, biking – there are many ways to tire them out. Besides National Parks or UNESCO sites, there are also State or County Parks to explore and those will most likely be less crowded and smaller scale which is perfect for younger travelers.

Get up early:
Starting early is always the best way to avoid crowds no matter where you go. If you are traveling west to an earlier time zone, your body clock will still be on your local time so take advantage of early rising. Traveling to a hot weather destination? Mornings are usually cooler which is a great time for strenuous activities.

Fight jet lag:
Flying across several time zones is never easy but try not to take the easy way out by crashing at the hotel as soon as you arrive. For an overnight or red-eye flight, I book hotel rooms for my clients for the night before so they can access their room first thing in the morning. Take a quick shower, leave your luggage and head out for some easy afternoon walking, exploring, or beach time. Enjoy an early dinner, and try to get to bed close to normal turn-in time. Jet lag will slowly dissipate each day.

The power of pools:
We have taken our kids around the world and one thing we always tried to look for, especially during a city trip, is a hotel with a pool. After a full day of sightseeing, there is nothing better to cool even the crankiest of travelers than an afternoon swim.

Include some down time:
On vacation, don’t expect family members to spend every waking moment together. Everyone can use a good afternoon nap no matter his or her age. Schedule some quiet/alone time – adults included!

Keep it fun!
As you think about making your future travel plans, even sightseeing focused trips can include some unique activities no matter your destination. In London hop in a Mini Cooper tour, in Paris indulge in a chocolate making class, in Madrid take a tapas tour, and in Portugal, you can even take surfing lessons.

Mix it up:
This idea comes from my client, Kenneth Traficante, a certified Financial Planner with Equitable Advisors, New York City. I recently planned a vacation for him and his two teen daughters to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. Ken wanted to introduce his girls to the juxtaposition of two contrasting experiences: the exciting and over-the-top man-made city of Las Vegas verses the grandeur and natural beauty of the Grand Canyon. “Opposite experiences” keep vacations interesting – consider ways to enjoy both city pursuits and more nature focused activities. Ken’s itinerary included Cirque du Soleil shows, Grand Canyon hiking and star gazing, and a Sedona Pink JEEP tour. He loved that it gave his girls an appreciation and an understanding of the diverse world we live in – a perspective we could all use a little of right now!

Photo by Pixabay on

It’s never TOO early to plan your next adventure. Email me:, for assistance and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel customers.

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Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

My recent article, “Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation,” helped you kickstart and maintain your fitness journey while away. Incorporating an active lifestyle into any vacation can lead to unique ways to really explore a new destination. Another key ingredient of memorable travel experiences is savoring local cuisine. Whether it’s diving into homemade pasta and olive oil in Tuscany or indulging in hot chocolate and crispy churros in Madrid, you want to delight in the diverse local cuisine while abroad without sacrificing all those healthy habits you may have curated during your recent downtime. Enjoying a vacation with healthy goals intact should not be unobtainable.

This week, I am pleased to introduce guest blogger, Wendy Bonilla, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Founder of “Well Balanced with Wendy,” she empowers her clients to create a healthier relationship to food through one-on-one coaching. Here are Wendy’s “Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation”:

Scope out options ahead of time:
The great thing about travel today is that internet access is readily available, therefore there’s plenty of access to restaurant menus right from your phone. Before heading out to dine, check out what’s offered and decide what to order in advance. It’s much easier to be less tempted and stick to those healthy choices if a decision is made beforehand. Do some research BEFORE the trip to scope out restaurants, cafes, and food tours that have more healthy options on the menu. 

Eat a nutritious breakfast:
Breakfast doesn’t have to be early in the morning, but make sure to have a meal before embarking on your day. Studies find that people that wait TOO long to eat end up feeling hungrier than people who start the day with a healthy, filling breakfast. Make sure breakfast includes plenty of healthy fats and proteins. Pancakes are delicious, but they are filled with sugar and will leave you feeling hungrier sooner. A nutritious breakfast will supply the sustainable energy needed to take on the day’s activities. 

Watch portion size and eat what you want:
Sampling local cuisine is a big part of getting the full experience out of your time away, so don’t deprive yourself! One way to enjoy without guilt or missing out is to eat smaller portions. When eating buffet-style, be mindful of how much food you put on your plate. Take less than what you think you want to avoid overeating. If the food is served to you, check in with how hungry you are after a few bites – most likely, you’ll find you aren’t hungry anymore and you will not need to go back for seconds. 

Eat mindfully:
Take time with each bite. (People who eat slowly tend to eat less). Enjoy the local fare and slow down and focus on all the flavors, ingredients, and textures for the most fulfilling experience.
Eat more vegetables with every meal:
Try to make vegetables at least half of what is eaten at each meal. This trick works especially well at buffets, where there are often WAY too many options. Choose a couple tasty-looking veggie sides, and already, you’ve filled most of your plate.

Pack healthy snacks:
Packing snacks in advance can be key to curbing cravings while traveling. Staving off a sudden surge of hunger can lead to healthier food choices throughout the day preventing a frantic binge on less nutritious foods. Some good options to bring along are fruit, trail mixes, and protein bars – pack some individual snack packets in your carry on, or you might even be able to grab a few portable items from the breakfast buffet at your hotel or cruise ship. [This tip is especially helpful if you are traveling with children – of all ages!]
Stay hydrated:
Our bodies sometimes confuse thirst for hunger, so it’s important to stay mindful of water intake. Carry a refillable water bottle and take a few sips every thirty minutes. Feeling a burst of hunger? Drink at least eight ounces of water, then check in with your body to see if the hunger has subsided. 

Looking to continue on the road to healthy eating? Wendy Bonilla can support you in taking control of your food cravings and emotional eating habits, so you can feel confident in your body and show up more radiant in ALL areas of your life. For more information, connect with Wendy on Instagram or Facebook.

It’s never TOO early to plan your next adventure. Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks customers.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email. For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE

Photo credits: Ella Olsson, Jane D, & Anna Pelzer

Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation

Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation

With Covid-19 vaccinations on the rise and Covid restrictions gradually lifting, travel is slowly starting to resume. Being stuck at home for months combined with the closure of many gyms has caused some unwanted “Pandemic Pounds.” There’s no reason a vacation has to contribute to this problem. Rather, it can be an opportunity to kick start your fitness journey. This week, I am pleased to introduce Guest Blogger, Jason Rodriguez, a New York-based fitness professional and founder of Fitness Journeys, a personal training and corporate health and wellness company. Here are Jason’s Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation:

You might not be a kid anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing a sport or a silly game. Anything that involves moving your body is beneficial: volleyball, tennis, pickle ball, water polo, and throwing a football are all great options. Plan on playing golf on vacation? Walk between holes instead of driving a golf cart. (Supposedly, Mark Wahlberg sprints between golf holes, and he looks pretty good!)

Let’s face it, eating is a big part of a vacation, but the focus doesn’t always have to be on high calorie meals and rich desserts. Some of the most delicious (and healthy) produce can be found and enjoyed while on vacation. [On your next trip, include a visit to a local greenmarket or farmers market — kids will love picking out their own healthy snacks.]

Granville Island, Vancouver

No matter where you travel, there should be a place where you can “let the rhythm take you.” Whether it’s watching a live band or visiting a local club, dancing is a fun way to get in some exercise and see how the locals “get down.” You’ll have a blast, get your heart pumping, and maybe even learn some new moves to bring home with you. 

Wherever possible, choose the stairs. While on vacation, don’t be in such a rush to get everywhere. Instead of an elevator or escalator, take the stairs for a quick workout. If you want to have some fun, race your friends or children up the stairs once in a while.

Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu, Hawaii

Try to plan some activities or restaurants that are walking distance from your hotel. Taking a walk instead of grabbing a taxi or Uber allows you to explore the local area and burn some calories in the process. 

Maybe it’s just me, but I love watching the sunrise while on vacation. It’s a beautiful way to start the day. If you get an early start, you’re also more likely to fit in that morning workout and finish breakfast before the rush. 

If you haven’t been hiking before, you’re missing out on this excellent exercise opportunity. There’s nothing like a hike to connect you with nature, relax your mind, and explore new scenic destinations. There are hikes for all fitness levels whether you’re a beginner or seasoned veteran looking for a challenging course.

I’m not saying don’t have a drink, but there’s no reason to overdo it while on vacation. It’s much better to be clear and aware of your vacation in order to create those fond memories of your trip that will last a lifetime. 

If the hotel or resort doesn’t have a gym, you can still do some body weight exercises in your room or on the beach: push-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, and planks can keep you looking great, feeling fit, and ready for the pool. 

Vacation is the perfect time for self-reflection. Download a meditation App like Calm, Insight Timer, or Headspace and take five to ten minutes each morning to meditate. A simple technique is to sit in a comfortable position with your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your stomach; breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth; breathe in gratitude and breathe out negativity and stress. After all, mental health is just as important as physical health. 

For additional information and hear more tips on working out, virtual workout classes, and nutrition, reach out to Jason Rodriguez at, or check out his website,

Ready to plan your next ACTIVE and HEALTHY adventure? Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel customers.

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Sunrise photo courtesy of Zac Durant

Why You Should use a Travel Agent, Now More Than Ever

Why You Should use a Travel Agent, Now More Than Ever

Articles in the New York Times and Travel Market Report highlight the recent surge in bookings arranged by Travel Agents. As the Times mentions, consumers are realizing the benefits gained by working with a professional. To save money and enhance the quality of a trip at no cost to you, travelers should look for an adviser from a large consortium like American Express. Because of longstanding partnerships with travel companies and the sheer volume of bookings companies like American Express generate for hotel, airline and cruise partners, they are able to negotiate special rates and perks on behalf of their clients, from free cocktails and room upgrades upon arrival to spa treatments and late checkouts. “The VIP treatment does not come at extra cost,” states Times columnist Michelle Higgens; “travel advisers provide an element of personalization that can’t be offered via an online travel service.”

“The struggle is real,” notes Travel Market Report; “the sheer volume of information consumers must sift through if they’re booking online has turned trip planning into an ordeal!” But, not for an experienced travel agent!

Recently, I was featured as a guest blogger on the website. Click here to read my article on the “Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent” and see some of the benefits and perks that YOU may be missing out on by NOT using a Travel Agent.


Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation? Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points?
Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

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Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

Headphoto courtesy of Rana Swalha

Travel Trends 2019

Travel Trends 2019

The recent New York Times Travel Show drew record crowds and participation: more than 32,000 attendees visited over 560 exhibitor booths and cultural displays representing 107 countries from across the globe. An annual weekend event, this public show packs in plenty of travel tips and inspiration to keep your wanderlust fulfilled far into the future. Here are some of the major takeaways and travel trends gleaned from the show’s industry seminars hosted at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center:

New York Times Travel Show

What are the top destinations in the U.S.?
Not many surprises here, but plenty to put on your bucket list: Hawaii, Honolulu, Florida Keys, New York City, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Hilton Head, and Austin *

Top international destinations?
London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, Barcelona, Dublin, Amsterdam, Madrid and Toronto *

Top hotel brands?
Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hyatt *

Have children, will travel
Thirty-one percent of all trips taken include children. And, their opinions count! Among these traveling families, 77 percent say that their children influence the planning and 68 percent say their kids pick the destination. So, listen to those little ones.*

Heading to the U.K.?
Plan your trip around popular events like Glasgow’s Celtic Festival, a winter music festival featuring artists from around the globe and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. For the sports minded, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will square off at London Stadium in June — the series is part of a two-year plan to play across the pond. **

Bound for Berlin?
November 9th marks the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Events focusing on the history of division, the struggle for freedom, and the process of reunification will occur throughout the year. **

New York Times Travel ShowFancy a trip to France?
June 6th marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, with plenty of opportunities to celebrate peace, liberty, and reconciliation. Plan a trip to follow in the footsteps of the “Greatest Generation.”**

Original Eats
No matter where you go, get off the beaten track and take the road less traveled to unique or off the radar restaurants — not just what’s featured on social media. A few gems: Al Pompiere and La Taverna dei Fori Imperiale in Rome and the Bras Group of restaurants in France. In Venice head to the islands of Lido or Burano to dine. In Amalfi, visit the bathhouse/restaurant at Fornillo Beach, located just outside of more populated Positano. **

Ready for a river cruise?
AmaWaterways is adding a new larger ship to its Danube cruises. And, their new itinerary in Portugal’s Douro Valley will bring you up close to this region, famous for its wine tasting. +

Big on Bleisure
More and more people are blending business with leisure activities on business trips. Piggybacking on a business trip itinerary can help save you money and time and is the best reward for your hard work.+

Small is BIG
Small cruise ships can visit smaller ports and take you to unique destinations. These itineraries also feature more intimate excursions often with VIP access or after hours visits that are blissfully crowd free providing for an experiential and meaningful vacation. +

New York Times Travel ShowThere’s an app for that
Technology can improve the guest experience by creating moments of delight and helping travelers use time more efficiently. The AmaWaterways app sends picture postcards home and keeps track of ports and last-minute itinerary changes. The Princess Cruise app is the new “walkie talkie” – it keeps families in touch while on board. (Plus, you can even order a pizza and have it delivered to your cabin!) The MY TSA app tracks airport security lines (And, check out their entertaining Instagram for pics of outrageous items found in carry-on luggage). But, while on tours, put the phone away, turn off devices, and take time to meet the people around you. This is the time to soak up experiences and escape from life’s fast pace.+

What matters most? Travel!
People give up on other things before they will give up on travel. Collect experiences, not things. We all want to escape the harsh realities of life and travel is just the ticket.+

And the most important takeaway of the Travel Show?
Travel Agents will save you time! Click here to see why.

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation?
Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

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Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

*Data provided by James Shillinglaw, Insider Travel Report
**Data provided by Kier Matthews, Classic Vacations; Celina Tavares, Tourismo de Portugal; Wanda Radetti, VisitCroatia; Elizabeth Minchilli, EatItaly App
+Data provided by James Shillinglaw, Insider Travel Report; Christine Duffy, Carnival Cruises; Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways; Jenniver Tombaugh, Tauck; Jackie Freedman, Nexion Travel; Lindsey Uuberroth, Preferred Hotels
Header photo courtesy of Valentin Antonucci; all others courtesy of New York Times Travel Show


Planning Perfect Multi-Generational Trips

Planning Perfect Multi-Generational Trips

A multi-generational trip is an amazing way to create authentic, long lasting memories with your friends and family. But coordinating a multitude of individual needs and desires can overwhelm even the most intrepid traveler. Here are some tips to help make your vacation planning stress-free:

plan ahead:
The larger the group, the farther ahead the planning. Start at least a year in advance to give everyone ample time to arrange for vacation time away from work or school.

choose a leader:
Assign a point person who can represent the group, coordinate its needs and wants, and present vacation options based on an agreed upon set of parameters including price per person and length of trip.

call your travel agent:
Sure, there’s lots of travel advice online, but it’s so easy to experience information overload and wind up down the “internet rabbit hole.”  A travel agent (that’s me!) is a valuable resource and can suggest destinations, negotiate group rates, arrange complimentary amenities or upgrades, and organize your entire itinerary door to door. Need more convincing? Read my recent article “Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent.”

Grand Cayman

Resorts offer plenty of water-sports and beach activities to keep groups of all sizes happy

narrow the choices:
Discuss the needs of each traveler, including the kids and the teens, who usually have some genuine input and ideas. Do they favor city tours or country pursuits? Are they “Harry Potter” fans or “Beatlemaniacs”? Beach bums or adventure junkies? Foodies or fitness freaks? Remember, their opinions matter.

Maui, Hawaii

Woodcarving in Bali, Indonesia

Hands-on activities like wood-carving in Bali, will keep curious kids engaged

Guided group tours geared towards families (like Tauck’s Bridges Program) are a great option.  Or, consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort. Many offer children complimentary accommodations or at a reduced rate, and both offer plenty of activities that appeal to a wide range of age groups.  Private guided excursions in a van or minibus will bring everyone together and allow you to tailor sightseeing to everyone’s wishes, especially if individuals have physical limitations that need to be accommodated. Look for unique activities that will keep everyone engaged: a cooking class – think, pastries in Paris or pizza in Pisa; a Segway session in Seville; or London MINI-Cooper tour.

include some downtime:
Alone time is important – don’t expect family members to spend every waking moment together. Everyone can use a good afternoon nap no matter his or her age.

purchase trip insurance:
Comprehensive cancellation and medical coverage is crucial in the event of an emergency or unforeseen situation while away or back home, either prior to or during travel.

London, England

Book a MINI Cooper Tour and visit hidden gems of London in these classic cars

keep it fun!
Remember, the goal is being together with friends and family and taking time off from the busy lives we all live to enjoy some real (and electronic-free!) time together. Make it an unforgettable experience, and everyone will sign up for another trip, even before the first one has ended!

For more travel advice, check out my recent article: “Smart Traveler Tips” 

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation?
Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

SMART PHONE SUBSCRIBERS: to view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link:

To become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox, look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click here.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

Packing for a trip to Alaska can be a challenge: its northern reaches and varied geography means traveling through several microclimates. From mild to extreme, the temperatures will fluctuate.  Summer is the best time to visit though, which is why most cruises are scheduled June through September: the odds of spotting wildlife are high, salmon are swimming upstream, hiking trails are free from snow, and the weather is as good at it gets.  For some cruising basics, check out my previous articles: Journey through Alaska’s inside Passage and Fish & Feast in Ketchikan.

Alaska Cruise
Alaskan cruises sail through the inside passage – the coastal route that weaves through the thousands of islands, coves, and bays that dot the Pacific Coast of this northernmost state. Cruises will either travel southbound (Anchorage to Vancouver, Canada) or northbound (Vancouver to Anchorage) or roundtrip from Seattle, Washington (this itinerary may include more days at sea and less ports depending on the length of the trip).
Alaska Cruise. Vancouver
Alaska CruiseMost cruise ship excursions bring you up close to the great outdoors, so you can soak up all that majestic scenery and catch a glimpse of all the wildlife that draws travelers to the 49th state. How you choose to interact with nature is up to you: walking tours; hiking; canoe and kayak trips; helicopter and float plane excursions; fishing or boating are all options. But, don’t be afraid to try something outside your normal comfort zone, since the point of this vacation is to get out there and experience the wide-open spaces.  Check the excursions for details on activity level. Many outfitters provide you with additional garments or waterproof outerwear to protect you from the elements so don’t think you need to buy hardcore adventure gear to enjoy the “high activity level” choices. Dressing properly for excursions is key to comfort: wear layers that can be peeled off as the mercury goes up or added on as temps drop off.
Alaska Cruise
Start with a short sleeve shirt or tank top, a long sleeve wicking layer, add a hoodie or fleece (on colder days a padded or PrimaLoft-type vest will come in handy), with a thin waterproof hooded shell on top.Alaska Cruise

Besides standard sneakers, waterproof hiking shoes (with Gortex) will keep the moisture at bay. Hiking boots are not necessary unless you plan on scaling great heights. Skip the UGG’s which will get soggy, or rain boats which don’t offer much support. Throw in a pair of flip flops for the hot tub or spa, and a pair of dressier shoes for the dinners onboard.

Jeans, leggings, and comfortable, water wicking hiking pants (Prana is my go-to brand), are all versatile and low maintenance. Pack a pair of shorts — as you travel south to Vancouver, temps will rise, and you just might be able to lounge on the pool deck. Plus, a post- or pre-cruise stay in warmer locales in Seattle (click here to read my destination article) or Vancouver (click here to read my destination article) might include an overnight at a hotel with an outdoor pool.

For cooler days and for afternoons spent up on deck gazing at the glorious glaciers, pack a wool beanie, glove liners, and scarf — it can get windy up there. Light weight wool or breathable wool blend socks will keep feet warm and dry (Smartwool is my favorite).Alaska Cruise

If you can, bring a real camera, not just a cell phone – the vistas are just too large! Bring binoculars – they are great for kids who may not be looking through a camera’s zoom lens. Pack a power strip for your cabin to provide extra places to plug in. A back pack or tote is essential for holding layers, water bottle, snacks, cell phone chargers and backup batteries.

Sundry items:
Sunscreen, bug repellant, and motion sickness pills for small craft excursions are all a must. Sunglasses and brimmed hat will be put into use during summertime since Anchorage can have over 19 hours of daylight!

Evening cruise wear:
Smart casual wear is acceptable at night — what you would wear to go out for a nice dinner at home (no ripped jeans or jean shorts). You will not be as dressed up as you are on a Caribbean cruise, and typical lightweight summer garments are not well-suited to this itinerary (think “shoulder season” or “transitional clothing” instead).  Throw in a bathing suit for the hot tub and spa, and some comfy workout clothing or stylish athleisure, which works well on those days at sea. (Athleta has great choices).

For more travel tips, check out my recent articles: A Few of my Favorite Travel Things, Twelve Packing Tips Every Travel Should Know, and Smart Traveler Tips.

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation?

Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

SMART PHONE SUBSCRIBERS: to view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link:

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For more information on my trip planning services, please click here.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour


Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent

Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent

Travel is an investment of your time, your money, and your dreams.  Don’t leave any of it to chance…

1.  Travel agents are there to help you before, during, and after your journey, and look forward to forging a LIFELONG relationship with you and your family.

2.  Travel agents are REAL people who are accessible in real life.

3.  Travel agents provide you with PEACE OF MIND while you are away, especially during times of emergency or unforeseen travel disruptions. They are able to provide quick turnaround for adjustments to your travel schedules and can efficiently process cancellations if necessary.

4.  Travel agents cut through the clutter and misinformation spread on the internet.

5.  Travel agents read, understand, and alert you to the fine print especially with cancellation and travel disruption policies.

6.  Travel agents are GLOBALLY CONNECTED to people, guides, tours, drivers, hotels, resorts, cruise lines, and airlines around the world. They are on the front lines for access to accurate and complete information from airlines, cruises, and hotels.

7.  Travel agents have access to EXCLUSIVE BENEFITS like upgrades, VIP status, and special amenities.

8.  Travel agents use the HUMAN TOUCH to design personalized experiences for each unique traveler and create itineraries that match your specific needs.

9.  Travel agents study hard to become SPECIALISTS and can connect you to local culture and new experiences creating transformative travel.

10.  Travel agents make your dollars travel further.

11.  Travel agents are travel EXPERTS and are especially qualified in assembling multi-destination and multi-generational travel.

12.  Travel agents are passionate travelers first and foremost, and will apply that passion to your TRAVEL DREAMS!

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip, dream vacation, or winter escape? Email me:, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.



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To become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox, look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click here.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

Smart Traveler Tips

Smart Traveler Tips

Some practical advice on how to prevent unnecessary vacation-planning stress:

SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATE for COVID-19: Please check the Center for Disease Control and the Department of State websites to find the most up to date information on travel policies for both your country of origin and your destination. Policies are changing on a daily basis and all COVID-19 testing, entry documentation, and travel insurance requirements must be followed in order to gain entry to specific countries. Passport offices are also working with longer turnaround times — make sure to allow ample time for your passport renewal. 

Inspect your Passport:
As soon as you even consider leaving the country, check your passport’s expiration date. You can be blocked from boarding the plane if the date is inadequate. Some countries require three months prior to expiration, some have a more stringent six month policy, so as a rule of thumb I recommend to clients that they stick to the six month rule. (Example: if you are flying on June 5, the expiration must be after December 5).

U.S. PassportCopy your Docs:
Carry photocopies of your travel documents and passport in a separate place from the original documents. Even better, leave a version at home, or text or email pictures of the documents to a responsible friend or family member.

Stay on Top of Shots:
Many countries have very specific immunization requirements and proof of these may be required for entry. Other vaccinations just make good health sense and can eliminate potential illnesses during your travels. I often refer clients to a Travel Doctor who specializes in the prevention and management of health issues related to international travel. Another great source of info is the Center for Disease Control, which outlines each country’s specifications. Flying to South Africa? If you visited Brazil recently and your passport was stamped upon arrival, you will need proof that you were immunized against Yellow Fever to gain entry to South Africa.

Register as a Smart Traveler:
Check out the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for U.S. citizens that connects you with the local embassy and consulate while abroad. By enrolling, you receive important information about safety conditions that can assist you in making informed decisions about your travel plans; it will help the embassy contact you in case of natural or other disasters; and can help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

Global EntryBecome a Trusted Traveler:
U.S Customs & Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers through dedicated airport lanes and kiosks. The most popular is Global Entry which has been rolling out to U.S. airports. Travelers must undergo a background check and in-person interview in order to secure a Global Entry Card. Upon landing in the U.S., members skip the customs line, proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport, place their fingerprints on the scanner for verification, and complete an on-screen customs declaration. The kiosk issues a transaction receipt and the traveler hands it to the designated customs official.

Global EntryGlobal Entry comes with the added benefit of TSA PreCheck, which is the Transportation Security Administration’s program that allows eligible, low-risk travelers to enjoy a dedicated security line and expedited security screening. TSA PreCheck means you can ease through security without removing your shoes, light jackets, liquids, or laptops from your bags, therefore less time on line. If purchased alone (without Global Entry), TSA PreCheck requires an in-person interview, background check, and fingerprinting. (Note: American Express offers many of its cardholders reimbursement for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck fees).

Upgrade to REAL ID:
Is your driver’s license expiring soon? Consider upgrading to a REAL ID. This is part of the U.S. Federal Government 2005 Act which established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Eventually, to fly domestically in the U.S., your state license or ID must meet these federal standards of identification, or you might have to bring your passport to comply with the upgraded security requirements.

Get the Facts on Visas:
Most countries have very specific visitor requirements and that includes visas, a conditional authorization granted by a country to a foreigner allowing them to enter. Some visas must be secured in advance through a local embassy and affixed to your passport; some can be purchased at the airport upon arrival. It’s important to know ALL the visa and passport rules prior to your flight or you may be prohibited from boarding the plane. Flying with your children to South Africa? Those under 18 must possess a birth certificate with a raised seal to enter, along with a passport. Check out for more info arranged by destination.

American Express logoDownload Credit Card Apps:
Even if you prefer not to make credit card payments online, create an online account to keep track of purchases you make while away, and make sure to subscribe to email or text alerts to be notified of potential fraud or credit card theft.

AllianzPurchase Travel Insurance:
As they say, “hope for the best, plan for the worst.” Hands down, travel insurance is the best investment you can make. In the event of illness, death, terrorism, or severe weather, travel insurance helps you recoup your nonrefundable expenditures. To avoid exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions, make sure to purchase the policy within two weeks of the first deposit made on your trip, and check policy details before you file a claim to ensure that your cancellation reason is on the covered list.

Now, in the age of COVID-19, travel insurance has become even MORE integral. A recent article in Money magazine on the Best Travel Insurance of 2020, highlights the importance of reading and understanding the fine print to ensure you are well-aware of what the policy does or does not cover. Understanding hotel, resort or cruise line cancellations policies will help determine the amount of insurance required. (But, even though a property has a 24-hour cancellation policy, there may be a penalty if you decide to leave in the middle of your trip for some unforeseen reason.) And, many destinations now require guests to submit proof of a specific level of travel insurance that includes medical coverage in case travelers are in need of hospitalization or medical evacuation due to COVID-19.

It’s not always 911:
Know how to call for an emergency in the country you are visiting. In the U.S. it’s 911, but that does not apply all around the globe. In Europe, the number to know is 112. Check for all the details.

Micato Safaris, South AfricaTravel Light:
Not everyone can travel with just a carryon, so if you are planning on checking luggage, make sure to read up on airline requirements. More obscure destinations in Asia, Africa, or South America often have smaller airports that are served by smaller aircraft.

Prep the Kids:
Discuss the itinerary in advance of the trip; download an illustrated city guide; watch a travel video on YouTube – kids will feel more invested in the adventure, and more likely to “go with the flow” if any delays or glitches pop up. Upon arrival, I always made sure my boys knew the name of our hotel in case we were separated while traveling off property. Give everyone a map (yup, those free, folded paper things that the concierge hands out). Real map reading skills are an art form that should not be forgotten, and kids often have a better sense of direction than adults. Plus, they will enjoy being part of the solution rather than the problem of being lost, especially if you are in an area with no Wi-Fi or cell service…and no Google Maps!

Book Early:
Have a bucket list trip like African Safari, Australian Outback, or Alaska Cruise? Plan early (one year out!) to get a leg up on the itinerary, excursion, cruise, or lodge of your dreams.

Use a Travel Agent:
(Yes, that’s me!) For access to upgrades, special offers, extra amenities, and VIP treatment, help with multi destination or multigenerational travel, honeymoon or babymoon, nothing beats a professional. A travel agent takes the stress out of vacation planning and that makes you a Smart Traveler!

For more travel tips, check out my recent articles: A Few of My Favorite Travel Things and Twelve Top Travel Apps

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Herricks Travel American Express/Altour


Safari Packing Tips

Safari Packing Tips

Light luggage, light heart

The rule “less is more” definitely applies when packing for an African safari.  Unburdening yourself from the usual travel trappings is liberating.   On our recent family trip to South Africa we journeyed from city to safari and back again hopping from lodge to lodge by bush plane (click here to read my recent posts).  Not worrying about our “stuff” added to the spirit of adventure.  Need advice on what (or what NOT) to pack for your safari?  Here are my top tips:

Thank you Micato Safaris for the great duffle bags

Weather can vary based on the country and the time of year (seasons may be opposite of your home country). Wintertime in the southern hemisphere (June through September) means as you travel north (towards the equator) temps go up, with the reverse being true in their summer (December — March).  Kenya and Tanzania, located in East Africa, have milder, spring-like weather year-round verses South Africa, which has much greater temperature swings.  No matter the destination, early morning and late evening game drives can be cooler than when the sun is high in the sky.

Luggage requirements (weights and measurements) vary by airline carrier, so check these in advance, especially the baggage allowed on small bush planes. For our safari, a medium sized rolling duffle bag with exterior zippered pockets to store non-valuables worked perfectly.

Shoes take up lots of room, so choose carefully. Hiking boots are only necessary if you plan on trekking or mountain climbing. On safari, you are traveling mostly by vehicle, but hard soled, comfortable shoes are a must for bush walks.  Over the ankle hiking boots are bulky, so a better option are walking or hiking shoes (preferably with waterproof Gortex, like North Face or Merrells).  Flip flops come in handy for the lodge pool or Jacuzzi.  And, slip-on style leather sneakers are convenient for airport security and work well for “in between” weather patterns. Touring Johannesburg and Cape Town during their winter?  Pack a pair of light weight leather ankle booties with rubber soles for cool or rainy days.

Layers, layers, layers.  Simple and neat, casual clothing, whether you are in the city or on safari, always works best.  Even in warmer weather, long pants and long sleeve shirts made from quick-dry or dri-FIT material will protect you from strong sun and mosquitoes. Wear a short sleeve shirt or tank top underneath for quick changes en route when the mercury rises.  Leggings or jeans are okay, but leave the trendy, ripped ones at home.  Ventilated trousers (like REI, prAna, or KUHL) are a great option and will keep you cool and dry.

Sabi Sabi Safari

As the sun sets, long sleeves and trousers work best

Pack clothing that can be washed (not dry cleaned) since many lodges provide complimentary same-day laundry service).  Pick neutral colors and leave the brights at home.  No camouflage patterns – it is simply not acceptable.  And, keep away from brash, logo t-shirts – it’s best to blend in.

When temps drop, most lodges will provide warm blankets or hot water bottles in the open-air vehicles, but come prepared with scarf, wool beanie, glove liners, fleece jacket, and light-weight quilted vest, because when the sun sets it gets cold!  Heavy winter boots and coats are not necessary — but I definitely appreciated my flannel pajamas during our visit in July!  In the cooler evenings in Cape Town and Johannesburg, I made good use of light weight merino wool cardigans that were easily layered (and didn’t take up much room in the luggage).

Sabi Sabi Safari

Dress in neutral attire that will not “attract” animals, especially when spending time outside the vehicle during a “Sundowners” break

Outdoor dining at the lodges is very popular, but dressing up for dinner is generally unnecessary; it’s more relaxed than you think, even at the luxury tented camps.  Usually, we went right from our evening drive to our al fresco dinner.

Other important items?  A brimmed hat and bathing suit for warm, sunny days and rain shell and collapsible umbrella for rainy days.  And, if you have read my previous packing article (click here) you will know I never travel without a wrap or Pashmina!

Mini surge protector

Bring extra batteries, memory cards, and lens cloths for your camera (dust gets everywhere) plus power packs for your phone. Converters and adapters will be required for most electronics, and a mini surge protector always is useful in any hotel room where outlets may be few and hard to reach. During game drives, my boys also made good use of binoculars — great for children who may not be using a camera or spotting wildlife through a zoom lens.

This adapter kit works with all Apple devices

Many lodges provide flashlights, but pack one of those mini mag lights just in case — lodges can be pitch-dark at night (although for safety reasons, you are usually escorted back to your tent by a guide). Most lodges include a hairdryer so skip packing this heavy item (and wear that hat you packed!)    Make sure to download books to your e-reader in advance because wifi and cell service can be unpredictable, or better yet, bring an actual book or travel-sized board game – since being “off the grid” is really the point.

Take a tote bag or a light weight backpack to use in the safari vehicle to store your camera and the extra layers of clothing you may shed (it can double as your carry on).  Make sure it has a zipper to keep your items dust-free (the bag usually winds up on the floor during all that off-road driving).

Assemble a well-stocked first aid kit in a waterproof bag (check to see if the country you are visiting allows ziploc bags).  Include extra prescription medications (an antibiotic script, just in case) plus over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen, allergy and diarrhea tablets, cortisone cream, motion sickness pills, dry-eye drops, hand sanitizer, bug spray, sunscreen, and adhesive bandages.

Packing cubes

Before placing items in your bag, lay out your things by item type and then remove one item from each category – you will not miss them!  If traveling between several lodges, I recommend those flat, zippered, nylon pouches to arrange your stuff.   You can lift them from suitcase to dresser drawer and back again without having to repack each individual item.

Handing out toys, pens, and candies to local children you meet along the way is strongly discouraged because it creates an endless cycle of begging. Instead, search out a “Social Enterprise,” an organization that runs as a business with profits going to support a community project or social need — buy locally made handicrafts or stop at a community-run store or café. Upon your return home, make a donation to a cause that has pulled at your heartstrings be it animal conservation, children’s charity, or land preservation.  Your dollars, euros, or pounds will go a long way to helping our planet and all who dwell on it.

Sabi Sabi Safari

During our stay in Sabi Sabi, we visited a local community and the “Swa Vana Center,” which cares for orphaned and vulnerable children by offering physical, emotional, social, and educational support.

Sabi Sabi Safari

We stopped in a local market and met the proprietor.

Sabi Sabi Safari

After shopping at a local crafts market, we were treated to a performance of music and dancing.

Sabi Sabi Safari

The local children loved “hamming it up” for the camera

Our visit to the local communities in the Mpumalanga Province was an enriching and educational experience

Check your travel documents — having the proper paperwork is crucial.  LOOK AT YOUR PASSPORT EXPIRATION DATE: it cannot expire prior to six months from the dates of your trip. If you have LESS thank six months left on the expiration you will NOT be allowed to checkin at the airport or board your departure flight! Make sure you secured the appropriate visas to enter a country. South Africa requires all children under the age of 18 to possess a valid birth certificate with a raised seal, in addition to a valid passport (even if traveling with both parents).  Many countries may require proof of inoculations so check the website (or visit a doctor that specializes in travel related immunizations) to learn about recommended shots.

For more packing advice, check out my recent articles: “Twelve Packing Tips Every Traveler Should Know” and  “A Few of my Favorite Travel Things.”

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Herricks Travel American Express


To become a SUBSCRIBER, look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box, and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click here.

Herricks Travel American Express